A busy week for the Men’s Football Performance Programme saw three games across both squads. The BCS XI played two games, firstly on Monday in Sussex County Cup Quarter Finals against Buckswood School and back in BCS League action away at South Downs College 1st XI. The ECFA National League squad were back in league action with Dereham Town of Norfolk being the visitors to Waterhall.
The first National League match of 2015 saw Worthing back in league action since the end of November. The National League is extremely tight this season in particular, which shows the high level and quality between all sides in the division.
Worthing welcomed back Jack Barnes and Harry Smith into the starting line up and the focus was on team shape, tempo and set piece quality. In the corresponding fixture Worthing took an early lead and kept disciplined to get the result. This time the exact opposite was shown at the start of the game. The Dereham number 11 cut inside full back Jack Punter and expertly curled the ball into the far corner past the out stretched Jimmy Punter in the Worthing goal. 0-1.
Dereham then looked to sit back on this lead and offer the chance for Worthing to dominate possession and territory, however the compactness of play didn’t provide too many openings. Harry Smith was very direct with his approach and looked to commit defenders at every opportunity, however the final cross seemed to elude the Worthing front line on more than one occasion.
Worthing continued to chip away at the Dereham rear guard with Matt Smith and Dave Beaney looking confident on the ball to begin attacks from the back line. Jack Barnes was looking to dictate play alongside Scott Goodman, who broke up play expertly. Set pieces gave Worthing more clear cut chances in this match up. Barnes’ excellent dead balls were twice met by Beaney and Sam Marsden, but failed to hit the target.
With 15 minutes to go in the half Worthing deservedly got their equaliser. This time a more direct approach from Matt Smith saw Marsden have two bites of the ball only for the Dereham keeper to parry into the path of Luke Richards to smash the ball home from close range. 1-1.
That was the score going into half time. The half time focus was to look to get more players in higher positions to allow more support to Marsden. In addition to this it was important to play the great quick tempo passing game that had been in evidence during the first half.
To their credit Dereham were excellent on the attack and had two wingers and a centre midfield player with great quality looking to put Worthing under pressure and looking to take a lead. Worthing were grateful for Jimmy Punter, who made a excellent save from the Dereham number 10, whose shot was tipped away superbly.
Harry Smith continued to terrorise the Dereham back line, beating his opponent, getting into the penalty area with just the final cross or shot not going the way of Worthing.
As bodies began to tire and the game intensified the substitutes bench may have been the key to 3 points. Tyler Nightingill replaced Oran Guile and Harry Russell made an appearance for the tireless Marsden. Worthing continued to press and press and it was again from the set piece route that Worthing almost took the lead. Again Beaney was denied from a Barnes free kick and Richards also misguided a header, this time from a Barnes corner.
The final quarter of the game saw it being stretched with an almost we attack, you attack approach. Worthing were standing firm and looking to spring their own counter attacks. Richards then picks up the ball in a narrow position, slides in the hard working Russell, who squares the ball for the onrushing Barnes and he capped off a superb return with a cool side foot finish. 2-1.
There was still time for a Dereham chance to equalise, however the post came to the aid of the Worthing squad and with the final whistle blown came the sense of a job very well done.
Performance Programme Coach Dave Hall was extremely pleased with the performance “it was great to see all of the u19 squad together again after bit of a league layoff. Despite this layoff the team togetherness and cohesion was for all to see and again great character was shown to come back from 1-0 down. This league is of such a high standard that all teams give an excellent account of themselves and there are no easy games and this was no different. It was again superb to see that the players were taking on board their developmental points, which then led to a positive result and this focus on player development is what the programme is all about.”
The first game of the week for the BCS squad saw a very spirited Buckswood School come to Waterhall for a re-arranged Sussex County Cup Quarter Final. In essence the performance was not of the high standards of what is expected, with some players not giving the minimum of maximum effort required. Despite this possession and territory was in Worthing’s favour, but no clear cut chances created.
Early in the second half keeper Lee Whittaker was caught off his line by a speculative 25 yard effort to see Buckswood take the lead. Passion and desire was very evident with the opponents and this was heightened in their last ditch defending.
With the match into injury time Kieran O’Brien’s corner found the head of substitute Ryan Mackley and potentially putting the tie into extra time. However from the restart Worthing won the ball back and put Conor Bull in the clear. Bull beat his opponent on the outside and crossed for Harry Russell, who ran across his man and the ball was bundled in. 2-1 Worthing and a place in the County Cup Semi Finals was just about secured.
Off the back of this disappointing performance Coaches Dave Hall and Danny Cullip rung the changes for the BCS Performance League match against South Downs. Joel Davison and Ross Edwards began in the middle of midfield looking for match sharpness. George Dennis was recalled into the starting line up also.
The response was excellent with Worthing playing some excellent high tempo football, moving the ball from side to side, looking to create opportunities and increasing the score line. Worthing never let up on their opponents and ended up running out 12-0 winners. Dennis bagged himself 4 goals, while there were braces for Davison, Edwards & Mitchell Hartley. Chay Peters and and OG made up the goalscorers.
Dave Hall again was excited by the response “to be fair a few home truths were given out on Monday with Danny and I both wanting a response as we felt the passion and desire was missing from the squads play. Danny was so pleased with how the squad conducted themselves and all the players got game time, which is vital in terms of developing themselves as players. It was also great to see Ross and Joel get some minutes, which again will only enhance their development with us.”